Q: Is Windows Defender enough to keep my computer safe from viruses?

Q: Is Windows Defender enough to keep my computer safe from viruses? I used to have Norton but my son says it is malware and all it does is use a big chunk of my cpu and slow my computer down. He claims to never have had a virus on his computer and that he has never installed anti-virus software. I don't understand how this is possible.

A: Let’s break this down, I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the son to learn the distinction between belief and evidence:

  • Norton 360 is malware.If you look up the definition of malware, in no way does Norton 360 fall into that category. Score 0 for son.
  • All it does is use a big chunk of cup and slow my computer down. This is a testable statement. Check out av-comparatives.org, and look at the most current performance test. This lists the impact antivirus software has on your system. The lowest rating is by ESET, with a score of 5.6. Symantec is 5.7, Microsoft’s own is 36.7 (the highest rating). In this case, lower is better. So, score 0 for son.
  • He claims to never have had a virus on his computer. How would he know? Well-crafted malware is not detectable by the end user. It is the poorly designed malware that causes detectable problems. By some estimates, up to 40% of Windows systems are infected (I personally find this state low. Almost every Windows system that is brought to us is infected with something, but we are in that business.) Score 0 for son.
  • Now, as to your question about Windows Defender, again, this is testable. By reviewing http://av-comparatives.org test results on Defender, it rated #10 in real-world protection at 99.5% with 5 false positives, and its impact on performance is answered above. Is MS Defender a poor choice? No. But it is very far from the best choice - and it slows down the computer more than most commercial offerings.

I’d say this is another case where father knows best.

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